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49ers-Giants: Joe Staley the most important player to watch

Staley is hugely important to the eventual first start of Jimmy Garoppolo.

NFL: San Francisco 49ers at Washington Redskins Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports

The San Francisco 49ers removed Joe Staley from the injury report, signaling his return for the team’s game against the New York Giants on Sunday. Staley’s injury was originally expected to keep him out through the team’s bye week, which comes after Sunday’s game, but he’s back ahead of schedule.

And it’s great news. Staley hasn’t been perfect this season, not by any stretch of the imagination, but he’s the best offensive lineman on the team who has been playing at an All-Pro caliber for most of his career. With Staley at left tackle and Trent Brown at right tackle, the 49ers’ line has a base they can work with.

It’s still not a good line by any stretch of the imagination, but its success is nearly crucial for the 49ers to really learn anything about their offense over the second half of the season.

More importantly, Staley is crucial in giving Jimmy Garoppolo the most protection possible and therefore the best chance to succeed.

I don’t think C.J. Beathard would be lighting up opposing defenses with the benefit of a better offensive line, but he’s definitely had it rough with the constant pressure that’s been put on him. He’s taken a beating, and we don’t know how Garoppolo can hold up under that kind of onslaught.

Hopefully, Staley is back to form against the Giants, and if he is, I’ll feel much more comfortable about Garoppolo hitting the field after the bye week. I’ll be watching Staley more than any other single player on Sunday.